Hats off to PhD student Colby Buehler for his indoor air quality analysis under future building energy efficiency scenarios, out now in Science Advances. Was great to collaborate with Economics Prof. Ken Gillingham from Yale School of the Environment on this multidisciplinary EPA SEARCH Center paper, along with Pei Huang (now at the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research) and Prof. Jordan Peccia (Yale Chemical & Environmental Engineering).
A big congratulations to undergraduate researcher Megan He, who recently received a Goldwater Fellowship for her work on our measurements from the Environment and Climate Change Canada flight campaign (https://goldwater.scholarsapply.org/2021-scholar-press-release/). Way to go Megan!
Our new paper from the Yale CEID on mask testing during the COVID-19 shutdown is out in Nature’s JESEE. Still testing in the CEID (Center for Engineering Innovation & Design) today with over 100 masks tested now!
Additional info on our accessible mask testing setup and PPE results are posted at covid.yale.edu/innovation/med& Proud to have worked on this with Kate, Larry, & the CEID papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf to support frontline healthcare workers.
Our survey of an actual hospital PPE inventory shows that with the influx of non-certified masks, not all “real” masks function properly. These aren’t just alternative/homemade masks, but masks that purportedly function as an N95 mask.
Info on our accessible mask testing setup and PPE results are posted at https://covid.yale.edu/innovation/medtech/n95/ & https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3592485
Proud to have worked on this with Kate Schilling, Larry Wilen, all our other awesome co-authors, & the CEID to support frontline healthcare workers. We hope communities with limited testing resources around the globe can use this for data-driven PPE decision-making.
Gentner Lab student Jenna Ditto and a team of engineering and physics PhD students are developing the SpinWheel: a colorful, wearable kit to teach and learn physics and computer science in a fun, tangible way! The SpinWheel can be sported as a keychain or jewelry, and comes with a set of activities that you can follow along with to program the device into a step counter, a compass, a colorful display of LEDs, and more. The team is launching their kit on Kickstarter on Monday March 16. Visit their Kickstarter page to support them on March 16, or their website for more information about the project! All proceeds go towards funding Yale Society of Women Engineers STEM outreach events for students in Connecticut.
Congratulations to Roger on his super cool paper that came out today in Science Advances, which is already generating a lot of interest. Thanks to the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for hosting me in Germany as a Research Fellow and enabling this exciting collaboration. Check out the paper at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/10/eaay4109 as well as the press release and multimedia at https://news.yale.edu/2020/03/04/third-hand-smoke-no-joke-can-convey-hazardous-chemicals. Follow us at @drew_gentner and @YaleSEAS on twitter for updates.
Check out Jenna Ditto’s new paper in Environmental Science & Technology Letters using MS/MS to look at organic aerosol functional groups across OA complex mixtures “Nontargeted Tandem Mass Spectrometry Analysis Reveals Diversity and Variability in Aerosol Functional Groups across Multiple Sites, Seasons, and Times of Day” at https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00702 A very cool multi-site and multi-season study to elucidate the molecular-level composition of organic aerosol. Nice work Jenna!
A new study shows that air pollutants from the smoke of fires from as far as Canada and the southeastern U.S. traveled hundreds of miles and several days to reach Connecticut and New York City, where it caused significant increases in pollution concentrations.
For the study, published Jan. 21 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, researchers in the lab of Drew Gentner, associate professor of chemical & environmental engineering, monitored the air quality at the Yale Coastal Field Station in Guilford, CT and four other sites in the New York metropolitan area. In August of 2018, they observed two spikes in the presence of air pollutants – both coinciding with New York-area air quality advisories for ozone. The pollutants were the kind found in the smoke of wildfires and controlled agricultural burning. Using three types of evidence – data from the observation sites, smoke maps from satellite imagery, and backtracking 3-D models of air parcels (both the maps and models were produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) – the researchers traced the pollutants’ origin in the first event to fires on the western coast of Canada, and in the second event to the southeastern U.S.
Biomass burning, which occurs on a large scale during wildfires and some controlled burns, is a major source of air pollutants that impact air quality, human health, and climate. These events release numerous gases into the atmosphere and produce particulate matter (PM), including black carbon (BC) and other primary organic aerosols (POA) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers. Known as PM2.5, it has been shown to have particularly serious health effects when inhaled.
While more reactive components are often chemically-transformed closer to their place of origin, PM2.5 tends to last longer. In the case of this study, that allowed much of it to travel from the fires to the monitoring sites – a period ranging from a few days to about a week.
“Given the sensitivity of people to the health effects emerging from exposure to PM2.5, this is certainly something that needs to be considered as policy-makers put together long-term air quality management plans,” Gentner said.
The impacts of wildfire smoke will likely become increasingly important in the coming years.
“When people are making predictions about climate change, they’re predicting increases in wildfires, so this sort of pollution is likely going to become more common,” said lead author Haley Rogers ‘19, who was an undergraduate student when the study was conducted. “So when people are planning for air pollution and health impacts, you can’t just address local sources.”
Although the levels of the PM2.5 decreased over time and distance, co-author Jenna Ditto, a graduate student in Gentner’s lab, noted that awareness of its presence in the atmosphere is critical to public health.
“Studies indicate that there are no safe levels of PM2.5, so typically, any level of it is worth taking a look at,” she said.
Congrats to Jenna for Ditto et al. 2018 being selected as an “Editors’ Pick” in Nature’s Chemistry Communications “Anniversary Collection” and for being awarded the annual Wagner Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences from the Desert Research Institute for the the paper.
Ricardo Soto, an undergraduate researcher in the Gentner Group since freshman year, was recently awarded a scholarship from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and a STARS II research fellowship that will cover his research for the rest of his time at Yale. Ricardo’s research interests lie in Urban Air Quality and Atmospheric Chemistry. Way to go Ricardo!
Read about our EPA SEARCH project in the latest issue of Yale Engineering magazine: https://yaleseas.com/magazine/issues/2019-20/?page=18
Check out Jenna’s third paper in ES&T Letters “Nontargeted Tandem Mass Spectrometry Analysis Reveals Diversity and Variability in Aerosol Functional Groups across Multiple Sites, Seasons, and Times of Day” for a new perspective on the molecular-level functionality of organic aerosols. For those that don’t have institutional subscriptions, free copies can be obtained via: https://pubs.acs.org/articlesonrequest/AOR-BudXUC9jt8AWXUakInJf